San Francisco

“The good news—as it turns out—is that when you do get involved, and when you do immerse yourself in the community, you’ll start feeling less lonely and more like you belong.”

For 8 years, I called the East Bay home, and San Francisco my playground. My first job out of college was on Fremont and Beale. I hung out in the Castro, flipped through Craigslist to find friends, signed up to be part of a drag king troupe, as well as started one, and I performed with at various venues. I also was part of a dragonboat team, took Japanese courses, helped produce a short film, was the subject of a documentary for a local film festival, and showed up for events to fight against Prop 8.

All the while holding a day job at a a tech company for a year, and a couple game companies for about 7.

There were times when I felt SF wasn’t home when I disagreed and felt conflicted with the circles that I was a part of. But now I realize I terribly miss it. I am so glad I was a part of it then, and I hope to bring its character wherever I go.

The Modesty Walls

I consider myself a rather modest and humble person, but I also know that I can be a proud and stubborn, so I am constantly checking myself to make sure I’m not feeling full of myself in my interactions. With others in America, sometimes it felt like this “courtesy” wasn’t reciprocated, which left me frustrated because I wasn’t willing to play the “I’m better than you” game. In Japan, modesty and humility goes a long way in relationships with others, and since I’ve been here, it’s been nothing but a refreshing feeling of mutual respect. The struggle is real wherever you are, and everyone is eager to root the other on.

But now that I’ve been surrounded by it, I’m starting to see how modesty is a way to assert power. If one does it too much, I find it to be distancing, especially if they are older. Naturally, you wouldn’t want to push too much if someone is acting shy and uncomfortable talking about themselves, and usually old people are the first to tell you about themselves, especially if they find someone who has the time to listen.

So when they turn up the humility knob, I can’t help but feel stonewalled.

Welfare lesson

So the students learned about Finland’s welfare system in their textbooks, and they would know about Japan’s. So my JTE asked me to talk about America’s welfare system.

What a mess. This is going to be complicated.

After getting over the panic, I decided to just check out what wiki had, and summarized some federal welfare programs into a bullet-point list. But I also know how our daily American lives are filled with discussion about where our tax money goes, so I also provided a short summary on America’s history and how tax resistance is a cornerstone in our culture.

With all that in mind, I wanted the students to pretend they were mayors of a city and decide what top 3 government services they would provide to their citizens, and what services should be run by private companies.

All the girls provided services that took care of their citizens, like subsidizing health, parks for pets to roam free, and providing free concerts. Free wi-fi was also a last minute service for some. The boys used tax money to build monuments, for example, an unfinished Uesugi castle during the Sengoku period in Kita-Aizu.

To connect everything back to what they learned, I asked them which tax model they’d want to implement on their city, Finland’s, Japan’s, or a state in the United States (California). In order to help them decide, I wanted them to fill out a chart using data provided in the textbooks, and some tables I provided as data for California. They had to fill out the income tax range, real estate tax, and sales tax for each country/state.

The girls all chose Finland’s for security as seniors. The boys both chose the United States’ model because 1) their city would be full of rich people 2) their city would be a tax haven because it would have its own mint.

Legacy I tell you.